As the election heats up a face rises from the plethora of mud-slinging and accusations of cronyism and hate. He comes offering ideas and plans to help the country. He is charismatic and intelligent. His origins are humble and his ideas a beginning. But eventually the mudslinging and attacks turn against him and he is eventually dragged down.
Melodramatic I admit but sound nonetheless. With the country facing a fiscal cliff it makes sense to allow ideas to flourish and get a fair debate. To bad elections rarely work out that way. Romney’s selection of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his VP has put Paul’s policy ideas on Medicare and the budget front and center. Good right? I wish.
Democrats are absolutely giddy about the selection. They plan to drag down Ryan as much as they can. But in doing so they may do lasting damage to the country’s ability to deal with its impending fiscal apocalypse.
To illustrate this point let’s look at some stats here. The national debt has now ticked over $16.5 trillion. President Obama’s latest budget is projected to add $1.6 trillion to the debt. And this year’s projected budget deficit was projected to tick up to $1.2 by the CBO. Medicare is on the hook for an estimated $99 trillion in liabilities and Social Security will fail to pay out full benefits by 2018 or 2034 (depends on whose estimates you believe). This makes getting our fiscal house in order that much more important.
Oh if only partisanship were not so blind. While the President and his allies have suggested ways to tinker with Medicare and Social Security they lack any clear details on a long-term solution. On the national debt they simply call for higher taxes on the rich. Don’t tell them but even if we did what Obama proposed it would only equal $700 billion in new revenue over 10 years. And this is assuming the projections are right (not like we don’t avoid paying taxes).
Ryan has serious ideas for reforming Medicare and his latest plan, written in conjunction with liberal Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) could be called bipartisan. Like that matters to Democrats. They are all in to utterly destroy the man who reportedly “Wants to throw grandma off the cliff.”
But what if they do? Then what? Do they come up with serious policy ideas of their own or do they fall back on the old playbook of saying “We will fix it,” never doing it and hope partisan support keeps them in power in two or four years?
We live in a country that largely seems to not vote on the issues. Instead, ideology and partisanship trump all. Charisma and intelligence certainly account for something but they cannot trump either of these factors. Even if one puts their faith in the wisdom of independents they will be disappointed. Many have values and ideologies just as partisan as actual partisans.
Demagoguing Ryan may help Democrats win in November but it will not help the country. Just as this country has known since the 70’s we need to be energy independent we have yet to make it happen. We could repeat the same mistake as we have people with ideas on how to fix the system. However they are being targeted for partisan gain.
Liberals don’t have to support the plan much as conservatives don’t have to like the President’s Healthcare Reform. But at least give people credit for doing something if nothing else. Democrats are set to destroy Ryan, and by extension Romney. But ask yourself this no matter how you vote in November, no matter your partisan identification or ideology.
Is that really in the interest of the country? One way or the other the country will decide in November.